Mass confusion over shutdown rules

You can no longer head to the pub with mates for a beer or go to the movies with your kids to watch the new Trolls film under today's strict new coronavirus measures.

But you can still head to a busy indoor shopping centre to get groceries alongside hundreds, if not thousands of other people.

Art galleries, libraries and theatres are closing in droves because they either fall into the 'entertainment venue' category, are deemed non-essential or can't comply with social distancing recommendations.

And yet you're still able to go to a confined hairdressing salon for a trim or pop into a small clothing boutique for a bit of retail therapy.

Multiple state borders are closed, global travel is strongly discouraged and within weeks, Qantas and Virgin Australia will suspend all international flights. Domestic travel is now also not advised.

However, public transport systems nationally continue to operate, and people are free to walk the streets as normal.

Confused? You're not alone, it seems.

The rapid escalation of social distancing measures over the past 10 days - beginning with outdoor gatherings, extending to indoor gatherings and now seeing the closure of pubs, clubs and other venues - has led to conflicting advice and plenty of questions.

Here's what you can and can't do in this brave, new coronavirus world.

 

The Blackburn Hotel in Melbourne has been closed as part of the statewide lockdown on licensed venues.
The Blackburn Hotel in Melbourne has been closed as part of the statewide lockdown on licensed venues.

 

As of midday on Monday, the following facilities were forced to close:

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues)
  • Hotels (excluding accommodation)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
  • Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the one person per four square metre rule applies).

What about businesses that don't fall into those categories?

We all know now that pubs are shut … but what about other businesses?
We all know now that pubs are shut … but what about other businesses?

 

Last night, Mr Morrison said: "Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under (future) restrictions, if necessary."

Hairdressing salons are small, and it seems difficult, if not impossible to stay 1.5-metre away from your stylist while they're washing your hair. What about those?

Mr Morrison was asked about some of those types of business - including hairdressers and beauticians - last night.

"The only ones that can't remain open and provide those services are the ones that I've listed to you this evening," he said. "Only those ones. Only those ones."

 

Businesses like hairdressing salons can remain open but must practice social distancing and good hygiene. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Businesses like hairdressing salons can remain open but must practice social distancing and good hygiene. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

Shopping centres - large indoor spaces that are often full to the brim with people - can continue to operate, as they're seen as providing an essential service. Supermarkets, bakeries, grocers and butchers are often located within them and providing a steady supply of food is critical.

But health authorities urge people to keep a safe distance from others, avoid unnecessary trips and maintain good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching things you don't have to and coughing into your elbow.

Or, better still, stay home if you're unwell - regardless of the setting.

On the function of broader businesses, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had this advice this morning.

"If your industry, business or venue is not on that list you can continue to operate, however we do recommend where possible that people work from home to reduce the social interaction and ensure social distancing is respected and maintained," Ms Berejiklian said.

Bondi Beach closed again yesterday. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Bondi Beach closed again yesterday. Picture: Gaye Gerard

 

On the topic of social distancing, if you observe the 1.5 metre rule, can you still go to the beach or to a local park?

Technically, yes - provided it's fewer than 500 people as per the existing rule.

That's why there was anger about the thousands of people cramming Bondi Beach at the weekend - there's a ban on non-essential outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.

But some state leaders are taking a more hard-line stance than others when it comes to doing virtually anything that's not absolutely necessary.

"Stay in your suburb," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters this morning.

"It is not about packing up the car and going to the beach for a picnic or going for a swim at the beach. It's not about going camping, packing the family up and going camping.

"This is about staying in your suburb. I need everyone to listen to advice and stay in your suburb. Queensland has the best weather and it will be hard for people, but we have to do it because we are trying to flatten the curve."

People are seen in long queues outside the Centrelink office in Marrickville, Sydney. Picture: AAP
People are seen in long queues outside the Centrelink office in Marrickville, Sydney. Picture: AAP

 

Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said keeping a 1.5-metre distance from others is essential, but it's the bare minimum people should be doing.

"We must minimise the number of interactions that which have with other people in a day," Dr Young said.

"It just makes sense - if you come across 100 people in a day, you have 100 times the chance of getting coronavirus than if you come across one person in a day. So social distancing is also limiting your series of interactions."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was even harsher in his advice, telling people today that having a backyard barbeque with mates "is not essential".

"It's not needed," Mr Andrews said. "All it will do is spread the virus."

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged people to avoid barbeques and dinner parties. Picture: Getty Images
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has urged people to avoid barbeques and dinner parties. Picture: Getty Images

 

Mr Andrews spoke of a coronavirus case in Victoria where 12 people went to a dinner party where one attendee had the disease.

"As best we can tell, the dinner party started with one person who had the coronavirus. By the end of the dinner party almost everybody at the dinner party had the coronavirus.

"This virus spreads rapidly. If people simply behave as normal, if they don't take this seriously, if they act selfishly, then people will die."

In summary, examining all of the advice and formal restrictions, the best bet seems to be to stay home, limit your social interactions and only head out and about when you absolutely need to.

In a stirring address to parliament this morning, the Prime Minister conceded that the restrictions will "change how we all live our lives".

"No more going to the pub after work. No more going to the gym in the morning. No more sitting down at a cafe for lunch.

"These chains are vital to slow the spread of this virus. As the virus spreads - and it will - governments around Australia will not be complacent and may need, and are likely to need, to impose further restrictions on our daily lives."

Originally published as Mass confusion over shutdown rules

Shopping strips in Adelaide ahead of the midday ban. Picture: AAP
Shopping strips in Adelaide ahead of the midday ban. Picture: AAP
Scenes of revellers flouting social distancing restrictions in Sydney at the weekend sparked outrage. Picture: Steve Tyson
Scenes of revellers flouting social distancing restrictions in Sydney at the weekend sparked outrage. Picture: Steve Tyson